Overview This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document has been written to help answer some of the more frequently asked questions regarding role-playing in Ultima Online. This is by no means a "complete" document but hopefully it will answer some of the more common questions about role-playing as it applies to Ultima Online. This FAQ is a work in progress from time to time information may be added, revised, or removed if you repost this FAQ in another forum or website please ensure that you have the latest revision.
Disclaimer Role-playing styles, preferences, and actions are as varied as the players who undertake them; some of the items in this FAQ are based on the opinions of the authors. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to role-play, if something seems uncomfortable or out of place in your personal play disregard it or adapt your own position and viewpoint. If you would like to add questions/answers to this FAQ please contact the current information caretaker listed in the title. Feel free to repost and distribute this FAQ, however its respective authors would ask that you avoid plagiarizing the text or reposting sections of the FAQ without referencing the original document.
There are different approaches to this, some folks (generally most) create characters/personas that are in theme with the setting of the game (see setting) and strive to remain "in character" (see in character) as much as possible while gaming. They will adopt mannerisms and speech patterns that reflect what they perceive to be the sort of thing that their characters would do or say when faced with the situations that they find themselves in. At times these types of characters are based on complex, well thought out histories and biographies and almost appear to be "real" because of the depth of character development that has gone into their making. Other role-players take a more relaxed and flexible approach "living in the moment" without the burdens of a specific concept, history or principal motivation. Neither approach to role-playing is "right", both are equally valid though the first is often classified as "stuffy" to the uninitiated and the latter "not being true to character" or lazy by elitists.
Despite the differences in opinion on how rigid or relaxed a person should be towards their character, both groups generally agree that the core essence of role-playing is suspending their real lives for a few hours a week and jumping into another body in another world. Most if not all role-players view the game world as a temporary reality and as such subject their characters to it in ways that allow those characters to experience situations from the point of view of a "real person" in the game context. In short role-playing is pretending to be someone else, somewhere else, doing things that you as a real person could not, would not, or at times should not do in the real world but are given the freedom to do in the virtual one.
Q: What is a MMORPG?
A: A MMORPG is an acronym that describes a Massive Multiplayer Role-Playing Game. MMORPG’s generally are persistent state worlds that keep spinning around their virtual solar systems despite the presence or absence of you as a player. As advertised, several people play a MMORPG at one time each portraying a separate character in a particular setting and fictional content. While not all players choose to participate in the role-play aspects of a MMORPG many do, and by their actions they play upon the background fiction and in game content to create a vibrant, living virtual world that is composed in a partnership between the imaginations of the players and the mechanical interface provided by the company that publishes the game and core fictional elements.
Q: What is a Character?
A: Much like in a story, television show, or play a character in a role-playing game is a fictional representation of someone/something else. In a role-playing game, characters serve as the vehicle by which players experience the game. Characters are not just limited to "real people" playing roles, they are also found within the coded game content, back story, and other parts of the game world which have no direct human control but which are necessary to create an atmosphere that is conducive to viewing the game as a virtual world.
Q: What’s in a name?
A: Names in Ultima Online are very important, not just because they identify your character but also because they can be used to classify or stereotype you as a player. While you should never succumb to stereotyping, it does occur and invariably you yourself will engage in it at some point in time. A well thought out name can make or break an attempted introduction of your character to other role-players. It’s pretty hard to be taken seriously as a role-player when you are named "Dallascowboyskickbutt" or "Ilikeicecream" (these are of course very tame examples of some of the choices that players make in naming their characters), likewise choosing a very popular name from Mythology or Literature can negate the distinctive presence that your characters actions can bring to the game and cost you recognition as a unique edition to the game world. Names also serve as indications of the race of the character (orcs, elves, and other non-humans all have their own distinct naming conventions and dialect) and at times the character’s profession, temperament, or place of origin. In addition to the name itself the usage of ALL CAPS or alternative spellings with different alphanumeric characters such as S1r B0Z0 D K70\/\/N tend to create a feeling in observers that the style of playing that the player chooses to participate in may not welcome role-playing. Remember though, players change their approach to the game as their experience with it grows. It does a stranger a great disservice if you judge them solely on their choice of a name without examining their actions.
Q: What do I need to think about when creating my character?
A: Again this is a subject that has a multitude of answers and is best responded to by a few guidelines. When you create a character in Ultima Online you are able to select their name, gender, skin and hair colour, starting skills, physical statistics and "town of origin"/starting location. Those are the mechanical options available to you as a player, some of the non-mechanical things that you may or may not want to consider building into your character concept are:
History: Where did your character come from, what was his or her childhood like, what actions shaped his or her life up to the point that you introduce them to the online world.
Age: What is their relative age?, does their age give them any particular mannerisms or viewpoints on the world around them?
Alignment: Are they Selfish? Arrogant?, Trusting?
Moral Code: Do they subscribe to the principals of the Virtues? By what standards do they live their lives and how would those standards dictate their actions?
Strengths: Is there something that they do particularly well? Maybe they are a natural born leader, or perhaps they are able to lie so convincingly as to sneak their way into high society with just a few whispered words.
Weaknesses: Is there some form of fatal flaw that could be their undoing? Are they alcoholics? Addicted to an unusual herb?, perhaps they stutter when they speak or simply cannot control their temper when taunted by a foe.
Mannerisms: Is there some action that your character habitually does? Do they twist a lock of their hair absently when in deep thought? Maybe they refuse to wear any colour other than purple. What quirks do they have that make them seem to be more like a "real" person?
Dialect: What type of speech do they use? Do they use a stilted Elizabethan accent? Maybe because of their history they speak in a rural accent, or perhaps their upbringing by a tribe of Orcs has permanently altered their vocabulary.
Race: Are they human? Orc? Or something as yet unseen in the world of Sosaria. While there is no mechanism in place for players to create races other than human, many players have very successfully managed to play orcs, elves, and a host of other non-human characters. The success and failure of these attempts depends entirely upon their ability to convince other players that the portrayal that they are undertaking is valid in the IC world; with a few props and careful choices in mannerisms and dialect the illusion is satisfactory enough for all parties involved to view the non-human player as "valid" in an IC context despite the lack of a game mechanism that enables them to graphically change their form.
Q: What is a Player Character (PC)?
A: A player character is a character actively controlled by a player in the game and which moves, speaks, and relates to the game world in the way in which its controller directs it. Whenever you log into the Ultima Online service, you are controlling a Player Character. It is understood that while you are role-playing your PC you are portraying a different person other than yourself, however there are certain rules and expectations that you must follow while playing your PC that are outlined in the Player Code of Conduct and Terms of Service agreement.
Q: What is a NPC?
A: NPC stands for "Non Player Character." Basically a NPC is everything that is a Human, Animal, or Monster that you may encounter and which in some way behaves in response to your actions. Some are very smart and controlled by a responsive dynamic AI or Human Controller, most are not and rely upon specific words or actions to trigger responses. Regardless of the nature of the NPC (Human/AI controlled vs. trigger responsive) the classification serves to distinguish between the actions of the player characters in the game world and its other non-player controlled inhabitants. A player in this instance is someone who is "playing" the game, at times third the content team will step into a NPC body and use it as part of an event or quest. When this occurs the NPC is still a "NPC" even though its actions are governed by the mind of a human.
Q: What is a Mob?
A: Mob (short for mobile) is a term that was created by players of MUDs (Mutli User Dungeons are text based role-playing games that are the direct ancestor of games like Ultima Online.) A Mob is an unintelligent NPC that is aggressive in nature and which player characters generally interact with via combat. Mob’s usually are found in the same location in the game world, and have a respawn timer that will recreate the NPC after a set amount of time has passed since its "death."
Q: What is a Feature Character (FC)?
A: A feature character is a NPC that is an integral part of the back-story of the game, or who assumes a role in the game that is re-occurring or part of a sequential series of quests. Generally Feature Characters are not played by players and may only exist as part of the background fiction of the game though sometimes a player character may become "famous" enough to be recognized by a large majority of the game as being a Feature Character. Feature characters often can do things that normal player characters and NPC’s cannot; in certain instances they are allowed to shape and change the entire game world by their actions or inaction. More often than not however, they serve as a backdrop or plot catalyst for players to experience the game through quests or scenarios.
Q: What is a RPC?
A: A RPC is a "role-played character", this meaning can have a few different connotations depending on the circumstance in which the RPC is encountered. RPC’s traditionally are characters that were created for a specific role, in a specific quest or series of quests. RPC’s can also refer to player characters that serve one specific function like a barmaid at a player run tavern, or a priest that performs weddings. Generally RPC’s are different than player characters because they are only "brought out" for specific types of things and are shelved when not in use. They are static and often stereotypical archetypes but just like any character can be as interesting as you as a player chooses to make them.
Q: What or Who were the Seers?
A: At one time volunteer players were given the task of creating quests and fiction for the various shards of Sosaria. While the program has been discontinued, the quests and events that the Seers created for the player base remain a part of the history of each shard and are often referenced by role-players as being part of that shard’s unique lore. Learning the history of a shard is a daunting task as much of it exists in the form of a verbal tradition or difficult to locate archives of stories and articles published on the World Wide Web, however UO Stratics and other sites dedicated to Ultima Online preserve some of the history that these quests helped generate. Even though there are no longer Seers who are empowered to generate fiction and quests for the player base the spirit behind their actions remains and many players across the shards have taken it upon themselves to bring player originated quests to their fellow gamers.
ED. NOTE: Now you can be part of the Unofficial "UO Seers" Program. A player group dedicated to bringing back quests and events to our lands. Apply today!.
Q: Who or What were the Elders?
A: Similar to Seers in that they were volunteers who were given specific abilities to help create events , the Elders were a group created to provide one-shot events for the player base that did not rely upon the need to follow a continuing story arc. This program, like the other volunteer programs hosted by Ultima Online were discontinued but the fruits of their endeavors continue to foster an atmosphere of role-playing and community sponsored events.
ED. NOTE: Now you can be part of the Unofficial "UO Seers" Program. A player group dedicated to bringing back quests and events to our lands. Apply today!.
Q: Who or What were the Troubadours?
A: As part of the Seer and Elder programs, players were recruited to be "actors" in quests and events. With the cancellation of the Seer and Elder programs, the troubadours were also "officially" disbanded, however several shards have groups of troubadours who play parts in player created quests and events as needed with characters created on their personal play accounts. (See RPC’s for more information on the types of characters that a troubadour might play.)
ED. NOTE: Now you can be part of the Unofficial "UO Seers" Program. A player group dedicated to bringing back quests and events to our lands. Apply today!.
Q: Where can I find out more about the Seers, Elders, and Troubadours?
A: A FAQ was written while the program was in existence and recently updated by former Seers Lucent and Bastet, it can be found here at : http://rp.warcry.com/uo/index.php?content=volunteers.
ED. NOTE: Now you can be part of the Unofficial "UO Seers" Program. A player group dedicated to bringing back quests and events to our lands. Apply today!.
Q: What is an emote? And how do I perform one in Ultima Online?
A: An emote is a physical action that a character performs that does not have a direct graphical action in the game client. Depending on your choice in clients (either the 2D classic client, or Third Dawn 3D client) some physical actions are already programmed into the game. Other actions that you may wish to perform lack a graphical representation, this is where emoting comes into play. An emote is contained between two *’s and denotes some form of non-spoken action that the character on the screen is considered as having performed. For example if you were to see * coughs politely * then you could infer that the character just coughed, likewise if you were to see * shakes his fist in anger * it would be a safe assumption that the character performing the emote is perturbed at something or the other. To perform an emote in Ultima Online you can use the ":" key followed by a space and the action for example : smiles would result in a * smiles * appearing over your character on the screen showing your fellow citizens just what big teeth you have.
Q: What do I use my journal scroll for?
A: If you open up your paper doll you will see two scrolls, one is the party interface the other is a scroll that enables you to enter in text that other players can access by opening your paper doll and double clicking on the scroll. Some role-players use this scroll to give other descriptions of their characters that cannot be achieved by graphical means, the space is often used for a small biography about their character or other form of indication as to who their character is and what other players may be able to learn about them without engaging them in a conversation or conflict. The amount of information that you may wish to place in the scroll is entirely up to you but be wary of dictating the direct actions of other characters in response to the text that you place here.
Q: I’ve heard that to be a role-player you have to say thee and thou a lot
A: This is simply a myth, some role-players elect to use a very formal style of language similar to the court language of Shakespeare’s time called Elizabethan English. Often it is mistakenly referred to as "Olde English" which is for lack of a better choice of words barely understandable when compared to modern or Elizabethan English. Examples of Olde English can be found in the works of Chaucer or in the Legend of Beowulf while Elizabethan English is best represented by plays such as Hamlet. Regardless of this mislabeling of dialect types the usage of formal Elizabethan English does not dictate a superior capacity to role-play; it is simply a choice that some feel more comfortable with than others. It should be noted however that usage of modern day slang, abbreviations, or alternate spellings such as l8r, LOL, and thx tend to break the In Character feeling of a game play experience. Some role-players will shy away from folks that drift towards very casual, modern speech because it detracts from the in character feeling that they wish to experience. Your choice in dialect and speech patterns will never be "perfect" for everyone, the best that you can do is find something that you as a role-player are comfortable with and which gets your point across while adding to the enjoyability of your character’s company as experienced by others.
Q: What is "good event etiquette?"
A: Good Event Etiquette is something that should be practiced by everyone who attends an event be it a role-played event or a casual gaming session. If an event is not pleasing to you, keep it to yourself and move on. Remember events are created by other players and more often than not require a substantial investment on their part in time and resources; the absolute last thing that is needed at a player sponsored event is someone complaining that they are not being entertained enough by something that they are voluntarily attending. If the event has a component where one or two specific player characters are speaking, be respectful and silent until it is appropriate to respond. It is very difficult to conduct a wedding when the audience is chatting amongst itself, just as it is equally difficult to host a story telling contest when the screen is filled with words from everyone in the audience that effectively drown out the speaker. When events have some form of reward attached be it a door prize or "treasure" given out at the completion of the activity be thankful for receiving it even if it is less than a kings ransom or "significant" in the OOC economy of the game. If by some chance you do not receive an award don’t complain about it unless it is appropriate (oversights do occur), rewards are furnished by other players and as such may not be as plentiful as expected or as large as intended by their givers. Don’t pick up everything that’s not locked down! Sometimes events depend upon furniture or objects to create a scene or situation and while you may have always wanted a bench of your own, that same bench could be serving as a ring boundary or as seating for a spectator.
A special mention needs to be made concerning events that are Player Vs. Player in nature. Gladiator contests, Mage Duels, and other types of "combat" geared events may result in one of the parties flagging criminal gray. Resist the urge to loot or kill an event gray unless it is appropriate to the event’s theme. At times role-players must shove the mechanics of the game aside in favor of what is transpiring before them, interference or "noto’ing" in a Player Vs. Player event is not only rude but more often than not will earn you a permanent cold shoulder from the community hosting the contest.
While there are a lot of "don’ts" there is one very important "do." DO come to an event with an open mind that is tolerant of delays, pitfalls, and other unforeseen situations that may develop which the event’s host had not planned on. You can serve as an example to other players if you are willing to "go with the flow" and help out where you can by allowing the host of the event to focus on the event itself and not with ensuring your personal happiness as a participant.
Q: Is role-playing a "play style?"
A: No, role-playing is a mode of thought and an approach to the game that can and does encompass many "play styles." You will find role-players that enjoy seeing their characters grow through "power gaming", you will have the misfortune (or fortune depending on your point of view) of encountering role-players portraying murderous brigands, the battle for Felucca between the various factions spurs role-players and strict PvP’ers alike. Likewise the struggle between Order and Chaos that takes place in Trammel is full of the potential for role-playing, as is the plying of a fisherman’s trade or a tailor patiently sewing armor for resale to other citizens of the realm. Role-playing can be a part of every facet of the game, it is only limited by the willingness of a player character’s controller to shape and mold their character in certain ways. There are many people who classify role-playing as a separate play style where battles are fought with pretty words instead of quickly drawn blades or muttered spells, the truth of the matter is that there is no set of chains holding role-players and role-playing back from participating in all play styles and types of actions that a player may choose to engage in while playing in Ultima Online. Some types of activities are naturally more conducive to role-playing but they are in no way the entire breadth and scope of choices that a role-player can make in participating in the game. Role-players are everywhere, they bake your bread, make your swords, steal your gold and invade your homeland. The difference between role-playing and not role-playing is one that can only be decided by the individual participants of a situation. Role-playing is not hard coded into the game, it is instead something that uses the hard coded mechanics of the game to reflect the actions and intent of the characters in the online world.
Be wary of stereotypes and do not be afraid to bring the role-playing mindset to activities that at first glance may not welcome an in character presence. You will find that there are more role-players in disguise than you would at first assume, they are simply waiting for someone else to break the ice.
Q: Role-players can’t be murderers or thieves can they?
A: Yes, they most certainly can; Siege Perilous is proof positive of this. Using a Felucca only rules format coupled with no stat-loss for murderers, Siege Perilous has proven that a well played brigand does not have to generate the at times negative feelings that many players experience after being stolen from or killed by another player. A few years ago when Ultima Online was still a fairly new game player killers or murderers had amongst their ranks role-players of unparalleled equal who portrayed their characters in ways that enabled other role-players (and other players) to enjoy an element of risk while still being assured OOC respect and consideration.
It is another myth that people who engage in player vs. player activities are incapable of being role-players, likewise it is also false that role-players are all goody two shoes that would never conceive of their characters behaving negatively to another character within the IC context of the game. It requires maturity on both sides of the encounter to separate the actions and responses of the character from that of the person controlling it.
Q: So everyone likes role-players, right?
A: People in online games are just like people in the real world. At times role-players and non-role-players are prejudiced, disrespectful, and outright hostile to things that they do not understand or agree with. Ultima Online has a large percentage of folks who cannot conceive of the enjoyment that others may experience by role-playing, others have not been exposed to positive role-playing experiences or have been treated poorly by individuals in the role-playing community; and as a result at times these naysayers will be very rude or derogatory towards role-players. The best thing that you as a role-player can do is take it in stride and serve as an example of the flexibility of role-players towards other people; getting upset and retaliating to jibes often fuels the situation further. This FAQ will not instruct you on when to use the harassment button (make yourself familiar with the harassment policy of Ultima Online), but it will caution you to not be reactive to the insensitivity of others unless the situation is of such a heinous nature that a harassment call warrants it. In the case of event disruption (make sure it is indeed disruption first) where grief players are actively trying to undo an event, endeavor to take every possible recourse in solving the situation in a way that does not encourage a perpetuation of similar disruptions further down the road. Sometimes however push comes to shove and the harassment feature must be invoked in order to allow events or your personal playing to continue unmolested...just make sure that it is warranted and that you have done everything that you could to represent yourself with dignity and clear headedness. The absolute best thing that role-players can do to encourage others to role-play is to lead by example, not giving in to hostile anti-role-players is one way that you can help secure footholds of respect with all facets of the player base and not just the admiration of your peers.
Q: What is meant by back story or meta-story?
A: The back-story, or meta story is simply the fictional backdrop that drives the game world’s principal story arc (we’ll talk about that next), or which provides necessary fiction for a specific quest or event scenario.
Q: What is a principal story arc?
A: A principal story arc is the underlying plot that governs the entire game world usually as the result of past or present actions undertaken by Feature Characters or by the game world itself (natural disasters and the like.) In Ultima Online, the principal story arc is founded upon the Avatar shattering the Gem of Immortality and thereby defeating the evil Mondain and subsequently creating the separate "shard" realities. That is the "core" story arc, it’s the catalyst for all future back stories, scenarios, and events that come about as the result of that one action which in turn spawns more principal story arcs, more possibilities, and more events that are shaped by the players within the game.
Q: What is a Scenario?
A: A Scenario is a situation in which a part of the game world finds itself in that provides a vehicle of change for players to create or participate in events based on a back story or piece of meta-fiction provided by a third party (generally the ongoing content team.) For an example a scenario could be that a famine has caused a number of bands of brigands to rise up against the crown and begin the movements towards a revolution; another example of a scenario is a particularly harsh winter has caused a migration in Frost Trolls towards human settlements. Both of the previously mentioned examples give a "back story" but rely upon the players to take it upon themselves to react to the situation as they choose. Scenarios are unlimited in their scope and content and can range from situations that demand a combat response to ones that require diplomacy or the usage of tools and items. They serve as a "situation" that player characters find themselves in and rely upon the players to participate in the scenario based upon how their character would respond to that type of circumstance. At times the actions of the players within a scenario dictate changes in the scenario later on, conversely some scenarios have no outcome that hinges on the actions or reactions of the players who participate in them.
Scenarios by virtue of being backdrops can serve as the back-story for individual quests or events. The ideal scenario encourages players to create their own stories, adventures, and quest type experiences by providing a "core" idea that player motivated action spins off from.
Q: What is a Quest?
A: A quest is a specific task that is given to a player or group of players within a role-played story line. Quests are different than scenarios in that they deal with individual players and are often objective orientated. An example of a quest would be Beowulf being tasked by Rothgar to slay Grendel, or the Knights of the Round Table setting out to find the Holy Grail. Quests may not always have a "reward" at the end, often times they are undertaken because of the motivations of the player characters that create and or participate within them, other times quests are tailored with the proverbial "pot of gold at the end of the rainbow" motivation. Regardless of why you choose to participate within a quest remember that someone took the time to create a story or situation to help entertain other players, be respectful of that even if the quest winds up not being up to your standards of content or "rewards."
Q: What is an event?
A: Events are one-time gatherings that are created with the objective of creating a specific atmosphere or fulfilling a specific purpose. Events can be anything from tavern openings to player character vs. player character tournaments. The Calendar of Events found on the home page of Ultima Online lists events in a shard by shard format. Often times, events are good places to meet other players for the first time and introduce your character to people who may at a later date invite you to join guilds, quests, or friendships. Remember that when you attend an event you are choosing to participate in something that another player has invested time and effort in creating, be respectful of that; if you do not like an event, you can always choose to leave it, but more often than not events serve as stimulating encounters with other players.
Q: What does the term IC or In Character mean?
A: In Character (or IC) refers to viewing or responding to something from the point of view of your character. You as a player may know things that your character does not. Playing IC requires that you separate the knowledge that you possess outside of the game and restrict your actions to what your character has been made aware of, or learned from his or her unique perspective formed from in game actions and events.
In Character playing also requires that you take things at their face value, if a another player is playing a female character, an orc, or a brigand a good IC player would accept the statements of the other player as being valid providing that the player keeps up their end of the IC encounter. Sports scores, homework, and parents demanding that you take out the garbage in the real world are not conveyed to other players in the game unless denoted with a specific OOC statement (and even then, its generally frowned upon), being IC means that you leave the real world behind you and exist as your character in the game world and shove off the mundane requirements of reality for a few hours to enjoy being someone or something else.
Q: What is Out of Character, or OOC?
A: Out of Character, or OOC is the exact opposite of In Character or IC. OOC things are actions, statements, or methods of playing the game that reflect the real world state of their controller’s thoughts, opinions, and needs outside of the game. Generally going OOC is frowned upon, but when necessary it is polite to let others know with some form of OOC statement designated by ()’s containing the requisite information. It should be noted that a majority of the players in Ultima Online are Out of Character nearly all of the time. Remember some people may choose to not role-play, or may role-play only occasionally; both choices are just as valid as choosing to remain In Character. A courteous role-player however will endeavor to keep as much OOC information from entering the game as possible.
Q: How do I meet other role-players on my shard?
A: Sometimes this is a task more daunting than slaying a dragon or rescuing a maiden from a fate worse than taxes. Meeting other role-players or role-play friendly players is a quest in and of itself. Some shards are more active in role-playing than others, but every shard has on it people that wish to play the game from a role-players point of view. The trick to meeting other role-play friendly players is to a) be your character, b) act as your character would act, c) participate in events on your shard, and d) interact with others whenever you have the chance to. Ultima Online can be played "alone" but it is simply much more enjoyable when it is shared with others. When someone offers you a "hail" in a tavern or at a bank, respond in kind. If you have the chance to rescue another adventurer from the snapping jaws of a hellhound do not be afraid to scream a battle cry or utter an oath to the Virtues. If you still have difficulty meeting other role-players consult the events calendar and seek out gatherings that have the components that you think a role-player would enjoy and attend them! Role-players will rarely come to you, you must go to them and introduce yourself as a kindred spirit in order to be treated in kind. UO Stratics has several message boards and contact links to the various role-playing groups and communities available in a shard-by-shard index. Don’t be afraid to contact people who identify themselves as community leaders or self-proclaimed role-players; and if nothing else works you can always post at boards.uo.com requesting a push in the right direction for your shard’s RP action.
Q: What is setting and how does it apply to me?
A: Setting is comprised of the physical, temporal (time), political, and environmental aspects of the IC world. Role-players use the setting of the game to create their character concept, history, and alignment within the game world.
Q: What is the setting of Ultima Online?
A: Ultima Online is set in a world of fantasy where creatures of legend and myth roam the world of Sosaria, and where the age old conflict of Good vs. Evil is re-enacted in the struggle between the forces of light and darkness in a battle over the continent of Britannia. Technology takes a back seat to magic, and the preservation of order relies upon the machinations of a feudal society embattled on all sides by chaos and corruption.
Q: Is there somewhere that I can learn more about the IC history of UO?
A: Consult these links for some of the back-story of Ultima Online and the Ultima Universe
A Sosarian Atlas http://www.skaracitizens.uoguilds.com/atlas/Atlas_Index.htm
Q: What are Player Towns?
A: players who wish to form a "community" that has a physical representation create Player Towns. Often times Player Towns have a certain theme behind them and serve as an event nexus for the shard that they exist on.
Q: What are Non-player towns?
A: Non-player towns are the static cities/towns in the game world that exist as part of the hard coded map, some role-playing groups "adopt" a non-player town and govern it or use it as for their base of operations. Non-player towns are often not as flexible as player towns in the sort of events that can be held within them due to the needs/actions of other players who may not be aware that they are disrupting an event or role-played story line. The current Non Player towns are Skara Brae, Yew, Cove, Vesper, Minoc, Occolo, Jhelom, Nu’jelm, Magincia, Moonglow, Papua, Delucia and Britainn.
Q: What is Felucca?
A: Felucca from a game mechanics perspective is where player versus player actions can occur without the consent of both parties. From a role-play perspective Felucca is a land of strife and chaos, a perpetual battleground where slowly but surely the forces of darkness engulf the landscape seeking to swallow whole the remaining pockets of defiant citizens loyal to their families, homes, and ideals. It is a land filled with the stench of death, where the innocent maiden walking down the street could very well be a murderess in disguise, or a thief quick to lighten a pouch for a few needed coins.
There are significant differences in the rules that exist between Felucca and Trammel. In Felucca other players can steal from you, kill you, or punish the owners of a disrespectful tongue. Because Felucca is governed by different rules travelers to the facet should be aware that their actions can generate reactions that will result in their characters being killed, stolen from, or otherwise inconvenienced. Providing these actions are done within the rules of the facet and are not in violation of the Terms of Service or Player Code of Conduct they are an acceptable and valid part of the IC world. Before requesting intervention by a member of the Ultima Online support staff, be very sure that the TOS or PCOC has been broken and that the action warrants a response from the appropriate people. Simply being killed, stolen from, or otherwise treated in a hostile or negative manner is not grounds for hitting the harassment call button before doing so ensure that you are familiar with the harassment policy for Ultima Online and that the circumstance warrants it. That being said the nature of Felucca allows for players who wish to disrupt events, quests, or harass individuals and communities several tools to do so, be aware of this and wary of it; turn the negative actions of others into positive role-playing experiences if at all possible even if it means that you may "loose" the encounter the attitude that you express in the game can and will make a difference in how you are treated both IC’ly (by role-players) and OOC’ly by those who choose to not role-play. Felucca is a rough and tumble facet, it is also a place where players can engage in for some more realistic and tension filled role-playing. If you find that the nature of the rule set detracts from your playing experience and is more upsetting than enjoyable (barring the actions of players who purposefully are violating the TOS or PCOC) perhaps the less hostile facet of Trammel would be more akin to the style of role-playing that you wish to engage in.
Felucca is home to many of the older guilds and player towns/communities that have been around since the birth of Ultima Online. Because it is the "original" facet of a shard it is rich in history, lore, and points of interest. Take the time to ask other role-players about the history of the shard it will help you find common ground with others in your role-playing experience in UO.
Q: What is Trammel?
A: Trammel is an alternate facet within a shard; think of it as an "alternate dimension", where Felucca is filled with decay and death, Trammel is stocked with hope and life. While Felucca is a constant battleground, Trammel is protected by magic spells that prohibit the vile nature of man from wrecking havoc without recourse. The rule set and coding of Trammel prohibits non-consensual player vs. player actions such as killing, stealing, blocking, and other assorted tactics that are acceptable in Felucca. NPC’s however fare less fortunate and while the criminal system is in place in Trammel the protective magic spell prohibits citizens from taking the law into their own hands; a murderous player character brigand has cut down many a seeker of adventure while their would be champion is held by invisible forces unable to leap with a drawn sword to their aid.
Playing either facet of a shard has its distinct advantages and disadvantages, choosing one over the other does not in any way, shape or form make you a better player or role-player, so choose the one that best suits your character’s path in the IC world, or...like many players take the best of both worlds and travel where fortune leads you.
Trammel was introduced with the UO: Renaissance expansion and was IC’ly created by the mage Nystrul as a safe haven from the clutches of the evil Minax.
Q: What are the Lost Lands or T2A
A: The Lost Lands (also called T2A by non role-players or those who occasionally abbreviate in their typing) are a lost continent deep below the surface of Sosaria. The world is one of savages and an untamed wilderness where many adventurers meet their end in icy mountain passes or at the hands of voracious swamp predators.
"The Second Age" expansion introduced the Lost Lands to the Ultima Online player-base, and those who choose to explore it can find vast hunting grounds untouched by the expansion of human civilization. The Lost Lands are a wonderful addition to Ultima Online and are filled with many points of interest and pieces of content that make their exploration worthwhile as either a solo player, or a group of travelers seeking out the unknown.
Q: What is Ilshenar
A: Ilshenar is a third facet of Sosaria recently discovered by travelers from Britannia. Unlike the Lost Lands and Trammel, there is a wealth of back-story readily available to the role-players who wish to explore this fantastic domain (you will need a copy of the Third Dawn client.) Ilshenar is best described as a world turned on itself and those few humans who sought to colonize it. Powerful creatures roam the land, many of them the twisted results of Mondains experiments long, long ago. The lone traveler should be wary of venturing in Ilshenar, but those who live to tell the tale have material enough to keep an audience enraptured at an inn with the retelling of their travels.
You can learn more about Ilshenar here at: Introduction to Ilshenar http://town.uo.com/bnn/article_414.html and at A tour of Ilshenar http://rp.warcry.com/uo/index.php?content=UO3D/index.
Q:What is Britannia?
A: Britannia is the name of the main continent of Sosaria where Lord British fused together a kingdom founded upon the Virtues.
Q: What is Sosaria?
A: Sosaria is the name of the world that the game takes place upon, it is a planet far, far away from Earth yet by magical means, has been influenced by travelers from there. Sosaria is orbited by two moons, Felucca and Trammel (also the names of the two main facets) and consists mainly of one explored continent, Britannia.
Q: What is a Shard?
A: Once upon a time the gem of immortality bound all of Sosaria to the whim of Mondain, when the Avatar shattered the gem each fragment contained a perfect image of Sosaria, splintered from the whole. Since the shattering of the gem the worlds within the shards have sought their own paths. All shards are similar to each other in geography, and principal lore...but unique in their populations and destiny.
A shard is also known OOC’ly as "a server", each shard is a non-linked version of the game world where players create characters to play in the Ultima Online MMORPG.
Q: What are the Virtues?
A: Britannian Society is united under the precepts of the Eight Virtues, the Virtues are moral objectives and standards that guard and protect Britannians from evil and chaos. This FAQ does not go into depth concerning the virtues, however a very useful guide to the philosophy and mechanics of the virtues can be found on UO Stratics at The Virtues http://uo.stratics.com/secrets/misc_v.shtml, role-players use the virtues as character motivations (either for or against) and as a philosophical basis for their characters actions. At times the Virtues are given a theological bent and many quests and events are held that reflect some aspect of either one or all of them as a religion or theological philosophy.
Q: Since you can be infinitely resurrected, what is the significance of in-game death to role-players?
A: Resurrection is a necessary game mechanic to ensure that players will not loose massive amounts of invested time in creating characters that can be snuffed out of existence because of a server crash or accidental incident involving a cat and a telephone. From a role-playing point of view explaining why characters come back from the dead as part of everyday Britannian life is a challenge. One of the best explanations that has been offered is that Sosaria is infused with magicks so powerful that the souls of certain dead (player characters and certain NPC’s) are woven into the very makeup of the natural world and are able to be remade and restored to living flesh because of their importance or placement in the whole of Sosaria’s existence.
OOC’ly we as role-players can make the choice to not resurrect our characters (all good things must come to an end at some point in time) as part of plots or as a way of bringing a well lived IC life to a conclusion with all of the drama that should be associated with the passing of a "person." Even with resurrection being the norm it does not have to detract from the tension and loss that a character experiences with being faced with crossing over. If the issue of death and resurrection is approached creatively the inconsistencies between a mechanical necessity and the need for "meaningful lives and deaths" can be blurred or incorporated into the philosophical viewpoints of a player’s character. Some role-players use death as a decent into madness or corruption, citing the trauma that a mind would endure from frequently being tussled back and forth between the spirit realm and the world of the living. Others have their characters suffer temporary amnesia brought about by the shock of resurrection; family members and comrades for awhile become unknown strangers that must help and aid the character’s recovery of his or her mental faculties.
Q: All of this sword and sorcery stuff is boring, I want to be a cyborg ninja terminator can I do that in Ultima Online?
A: You can be whoever and whatever you wish to be in the world of Ultima Online. It is how well you’re able to portray that concept to other players that determines if the idea is a "success" (as always if something makes you happy then go for it.) It is pretty difficult to say the least to create a character that is out of the game’s theme of Medieval Fantasy and play that character in a way that encourages other role-players to embrace it as part of the IC world. Role-playing with other people is very similar to telling a "group story" where participants take turns adding to the tale with their own ideas and opinions. Group stories that share a focused theme and setting can be very stimulating and easily motivate participants to add to the spinning web of a tale. Whenever someone introduces a concept that is alien to the theme or setting it tends to create disarray and confusion and may simply result in your being ignored or IC’ly treated as if you were mentally insane. Travelers from other times, dimensions, and worlds do visit Sosaria (Lord British and the Avatar are fictionally from Earth) so it is not inconceivable that a cyborg ninja terminator could show up in the streets of Moonglow, but to sucessfully incorporate the concept into the IC world requires a great amount of effort and thought into adjusting the out of theme and setting character in ways that enable other players to role-play with it.
Q: Who is Lord British?
A: Lord British was a traveler from Earth who was whisked away to Sosaria and eventually became the ruler of Britannia. Fans of the Ultima series of games will know Lord British intimately, while those who are exposed to this Feature Character through Ultima Online may never have any more knowledge than we as real world inhabitants do of our current world leaders. Currently there is much debate as to if Lord British still sits upon the throne of Britannia, regardless of the veracity of this rumor Lord British forged Britannian society and brought order to the chaos of Sosaria in the time of Mondain. More about Lord British can be leared at : http://rp.warcry.com/uo/index.php?content=quests/british.
Q: Who is Mondain?
A: Mondain is shadow from the past, hopefully never again to cast his blight upon Sosaria and its inhabitants. As this FAQ mentions, the Gem of Immortality gave Mondain the power to sway Sosaria to his will. The Avatar (a mysterious stranger from another world) slew Mondain and shattered the Gem creating the shards of Ultima Online. More about Mondain can be learned at : http://rp.warcry.com/uo/index.php?content=quests/mondain.
Q: Who is Minax?
A: Minax is the one time pupil and lover of Mondain who has sworn vengence on Lord British and Britannia. Currently this mistress of darkness has invaded Britannia from an unknown realm and challenges the Shadow Lord, Council of Mages, and True Britannian factions for control of the Felucca facet. More about Minax can be learned at : http://rp.warcry.com/uo/index.php?content=quests/minax.
Q: Who is Lord Blackthorne?
A: Lord Blackthorne is a "friend" and proverbial thorn in the side of Lord British. While Lord British extols the Virtues and order, Blackthorne holds up chaos as a means to shape the course of Britannian destiny. He is by no means the enemy of Lord British, but at times their philosophical arguments have inspired zealots on both sides to take up arms in an attempt to force one viewpoint over the other. More about Blackthorne can be learned at : http://rp.warcry.com/uo/index.php?content=quests/blackthorn.
Q: Who are the Shadow Lords?
A: The shadow lords are another threat to rise against Britannia in the battle for control over the Felucca facet. Formed around a cult that worships The Shadow Lords (beings of exceptional power that were encountered in the Ultima gaming series and soon to find their way into the worlds of Ultima Online.) On the command of their dark masters, the Shadow Lords seek to conqueror and enslave Britannia.
Q: Who are the Council of Mages?
A: The Council of Mages is a splinter group of Britannians who have taken the defense of the Felucca facet into their own hands. Governed by a group of powerful magic users, the Council of Mages seeks to impose their brand of order on the Felucca facet.
Q: Who are the True Britannians?
A: The True Britannians are those stalwart and resolute citizens of Britannia that remained behind to defend their homes and their country against the assault of Minax and the Shadow Lords. The True Britannians remain loyal to Lord British and fight valiantly to preserve order in the Kingdom despite the obstacles imposed by the other warring factions.
Q: Where can I find out about the types of creatures that inhabit Ultima Online?
A: Consult these links for some very good information regarding the various denizens of the UO world:
Stratics Hunters Guide http://uo.stratics.com/hunters/
UO Bestiary http://guide.uo.com/bestiary.html
Q: Where can I find shard specific information about Ultima Online including role-playing guilds and player communities?
A: Many guilds and communities have their own World Wide Web homepages, it would be impossible to list them all, however many can be found by accessing the shard specific pages at UO Stratics.
UO Stratics Shard Index
Q: Where can I find copies of the Player Code of Conduct, and Terms of Service?
A: The Player Code of Conduct (also called the Rules of Conduct or ROC), Harassment Policy, and Terms of service can be found on the official Ultima Online rules and policies page.
Q: Are there any other FAQ’s about role-playing available?
A: There sure are!, here are a couple of good jumping off places:
UO Stratics: Role-playing 101